The next Microsoft/Apple?

Via the BBC:

…technology is now coming online that could allow you to receive your goods straight away.

As the cost of 3D printing hardware begins to drop, bespoke, printable products may be about to hit the market.

Freedom of Creation is a design and research company exploring the capabilities of what, in the industry, is known as rapid prototyping

…One scheme that is looking to capitalise in the technology is RepRap, short for Replicating Rapid Prototyping, which offers a cheap way of replicating objects – including the printer itself.

“It’s a 3D printer that prints out a kit of parts for another 3D printer,” explained Dr Adrian Bowyer from the University of Bath.

“It doesn’t print every last single part. There are some which, at the moment, are a little bit difficult for the machine to manage – so things like electric motors and the electronics circuitry the machine can’t do for itself – but it prints out a lot of the rest.”

In contrast to early 3-D printing machines which cost around £20,000, Dr Bowyer says a RepRap machine comes in at just £300.

And the software and hardware specifications are all open source – meaning the machine can be duplicated freely.

See RepRap’s Wiki and a video that shows how it all works:

RepRap from Adrian Bowyer on Vimeo.

This technology seems to be at the point that home computer tech was at during the early ’70’s, when phone phreaks and engineering students were building home computers in their garages. When these printers are simplified and streamlined to the point where non-techie types can understand and use them, this could really take off.


About marypmadigan

Writer/photographer (profession), foreign policy wonk (hobby).
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